> The Copper Family > Songs > Brisk and Lively Lad

The London Heiress / Brisk and Lively Lad / A Rich Farmer’s Daughter

[ Roud 2930 ; Master title: The London Heiress ; G/D 1:173 ; Ballad Index MoMa033 ; MusTrad DB12 ; trad.]

Brisk and Lively Lad is a song from the repertoire of the Copper Family. Bob Copper sang it in a BBC recording (BBC 21545) made by Peter Kennedy at the Central Club, Peacehaven, on 2 February 1955.

Bob and John Copper recorded Brisk and Lively Lad in 1971 for the Copper Family’s four-album box on the Leader label, A Song for Every Season.

John Copper and Jon Dudley sang Brisk and Lively Lad in 1995 on the Copper Family CD Coppersongs 2.

The Young Coppers sang Brisk and Lively Lad on their 2008 CD Passing Out.

Sarah Makem sang this song as A Rich Farmer’s Daughter, to Paul Carter and Sean O’Boyle in 1967. This recording was included in 2011 on her Musical Traditions anthology As I Roved Out. Rod Stradling commented in the album’s booklet:

This song has had a long and illustrious history in print going back to the 17th century. Roxburghe has what is probably the original, The Valiant Virgin, but there is another Roxburghe 17th century ballad with exactly the same story, The Bristol Bridegroom or The Ship Carpenter’s Love to the Merchant’s Daughter. Pitts and Catnach both printed it as The London Heiress.

A version of this song under the title The Lady Heiress and the Farmer’s Son is sung by John Maguire on Come Day, Go Day [in the book, not on the Leader album of this name]. According to Dianne Dugaw (Warrior Women and Popular Balladry 1650-1950, pp. 56-62) it is a late derivative of the ballad as above, The Valiant Virgin or the Constant Lovers of Worcestershire, was cut down as The Bristol Bridegroom and again as the London Heiress, from which this, and John Maguire’s song, derives. It is also sung by the Copper Family; they call it The Brisk and Lively Lad. It is quite rare in oral tradition, with only 35 Roud entries.

Mabs Hall sang The Farmer Out of Gloucestershire in 1985 to Mike Yates. This recording was published on the Veteran tape of traditional songs from Sussex, Ripest Apples (VT 107) and in 2001 on the Veteran anthology of traditional folk music from rural England, Down in the Fields. Mike Yates commented in the liner notes:

This is one of a number of songs where a resourceful young girl rescues her sweetheart from the army or the navy. The couple, as is usual, then return home to marry. Lucy Broadwood printed a word set in her book English Traditional Songs and Carols (1908) and the Copper Family of Rottingdean in Sussex continue to sing it, under the title Brisk and Lively Lad.

Andy Turner sang Brisk and Lively Lad as the 14 July 2023 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.


The Copper Family sings Brisk and Lively Lad

It’s of a brisk and lively lad come out of Gloucestershire,
And all his full intention was to court some lady fair.
Her eyes shone bright like the morning dew that does on the lily lie,
She was grace all in her face all mixed with modesty.

As these two lovers were walking they knew each other well
When someone heard them talking and did her father tell.
And when he came for to hear the same and to understand the thing,
Then said he, “’Twill never be, I will part them in the spring.”

It was in the springtime of the year there was a press begun
And all their full intention was to press that farmer’s son.
’Twas to press him and to send him far over the raging sea,
Where I’m sure he will no more keep my daughter’s company.

On the twenty-first of August there was a fight begun
And foremost in the battle did they place this farmer’s son.
There he received a dreadful wound in the hollow of his thigh,
Every vein was filled with pain he got wounded dreadfully.

She went straight to the Captain as Captain’s handy mate
And everything he said to her she agreed to undertake.
So tenderly she dressed his wounds which so bitterly did smart
Then said he, “A one like thee once was mistress of my heart.”

She went straight to the Commander and offered very fair,
“Forty or fifty guineas shall buy my love quite clear.
No money shall be wanted no longer tarry here,
Since ’tis so pray let us go, to old England we will steer.”

She went up to her father’s gate and stood there for a while
He said, “Lord in heaven bless me, there’s my dear and only child.”
She said, “Father, I have found him and brought him safe on shore.
We will spend our days in England, never roam abroad.”

Sarah Makem sings A Rich Farmer’s Daughter

Oh, there was a rich farmer’s daughter and she loved a poor farmer’s son,
And her father’s only care was to match this nice young man.
Well matched was he, and sent to sea, where the billows do loudly roar.
“Oh, alas,” cried he, “oh, where is she? Will I ever see her more?”

It was on the twelfth day of July the battle it began,
And right in front of the enemy they placed this nice young man.
’Til he received a deadly wound that nearly pierced his heart.
“Oh, alas,” cried he, “oh, where is she? Come quickly to my heart.”

Oh, when this young man got wounded to the cabin he was brought.
And in this little cabin there dwelled a nice wee maid,
And every time she turned around he viewed her in every part.
“Oh, alas,” cried he, “it was one like she was mistress of my heart.”

“Oh,” she says, “young man, you are quite right, I approve of your discharge.
Here is five hundred pounds in gold to free yourself at large.
And go unto the captain, and he will set you free,
And we’ll both sail home to old Ireland across the stormy sea.”

Ah then, when they came to her father’s gates they tarried there for a while.
When out came her father saying, “Here is my only child.
The child that I have been looking for this twelve long months or more,
And the lad I’ve been in search of is the villain that has sailed o’er.”

Then he took her by the lily white hand and bade her to come in.
“Oh no, kind honoured Father, unless that you bid him.
It was for his sake I went away, and proudly faced the war.
You may think your gold is a treasured thing, but love it beats it far.”

Mabs Hall sings The Farmer Out of Gloucestershire

There was a jolly farmer came out of Gloucestershire
And all his intentions were to court some lady fair,
Whose eyes shone like the morning star, whose hair was crimp and gay,
She had grace within her face that was mixed with modesty.

As these two lovers stood talking, they loved each other well,
Some person overheard them and her father they did tell.
He promised her he would send him, far over the raging main
That he may no longer keep his fond daughter company.

It was in the springtime of the year, when pressing first began.
In the thickest of the battle then, they placed the farmers son,
Where he did receive a dreadful wound, in the hollow of his thigh.
In the veins, he felt such pains, he was wounded dreadfully.

Then he was safely protected up to a sergeant laid
And the one he fixed his eye upon was the sergeant’s pretty maid.
Most tenderly she dressed his wounds and bitter they did smart
Then said he, “One like thee was the mystery of my heart.”

Straight up to his commander and offered very large,
It was five hundred sovereigns to buy my loves discharge
No money shall be wanted, farewell forever do
You can spend your days in old England and roam abroad no more.

And when she came to her father’s gate where they had both been before,
So happy that young couple were to think they were safe on shore.
Saying, “ Father I have found him, and I’ve brought him safe on shore,
We will spend our days, in old England.”


I copied the lyrics from the then Copper Family’s website; by now they seem to have been removed from there.